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Lighting Shabbat candles with Sarah Imenu

By Rabbi Avraham Citron

Hundreds, if not thousands, of communities worldwide are participating this week in an international Shabbat.  Children of Abraham and Sarah will be doing what Sarah did weekly – ushering in the holiness of Shabbat with candle lighting.

Abraham “called in the name of G-d, Lord of the Universe”. He made everyone aware that G-d is the Lord of the Universe (Rashi, 21:33). We start our day with the prayer of Adon Olam – Master of the Universe. This might be because Shacharit (the first prayer of the day) was instituted by Abraham and it is he (according to the Talmud) who was the very first to declare G-d as the Master of the Universe.

We are not just talking G-d or being all warm and fuzzy (which is good too) but we are putting our money where our mouth is. We believe in you, G-d, so strongly that we are willing to abstain from work one day every week, knowing that our parnassah is in Your hands. You will look after us.

After vanquishing the four kings, the grateful King of Sedom wishes to offer gifts to Abraham.  Abraham responds, “I have lifted my hand (in an oath) to G-d Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth! Not a thread nor a shoelace! I will not take anything that is yours! You should not be able to say, ‘It was I who made Abram rich’…“.

A fascinating interpretation (heard from Rabbi Schlesinger of Monsey) is that Abraham turns to his own hand warning it “You (my hand) shall not say…I have made Abraham rich”. Don’t dare claim that it is your might that conquered the four kings. One should never think that it is one’s own cleverness/strength/acumen/hard work that has made him wealthy. It is G-d’s doing.

One desperately ill man came to his Rebbe begging him for help as the doctors were unable to cure him. “Go to the city of Hanipoli and ask to see the ‘Great Healer’. The man went but was disappointed to find out that not only did they not have a “Great Healer”, they did not have any healer at all! When he came back to his Rebbe, disappointed, the Rebbe asked him what the people of Hanipoli do if they are ill. He responded, “I wondered that myself. They said they just ask G-d to heal them”. “So then they do have a Great Healer” retorted the Rebbe. “You too should know that all Brachot come from Hashem”.

We must keep this Shabbat (and every Shabbat) declaring proudly that we are the children of Abraham and Sarah and we too believe in Hashem. We believe in a G-d who not only created the world but is active in it and cares about our behaviour.

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